NVIDIA brings ray tracing to some GeForce GTX cards today

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Whether you have an Nvidia RTX graphics, or one from the last or most-recent generation of GTX GPUs, you can now enable ray tracing on them. Nvidia went public with its decision to enable DXR in March - a surprise to many considering it is the signature feature of the RTX 20-series. Hence why support is being opened up to GTX cards built around Turing and Pascal.

NVIDIA is careful to temper your exceptions with ray tracing performance on Pascal and Turing GeForce GTX hardware, stating that performance will be lower than GeForce RTX class hardware and visuals fidelity won't be as good.

Back at the GDC 2019 in mid-March, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang revealed that real-time raytracing technology was about to become available to a lot more Nvidia GPU owners in the coming weeks. This also includes the recently released GTX 16-series - the GTX 1660 Ti and GTX 1660.

In terms of compatibility, this new driver supports DXR on the TITAN XP, TITAN X, GTX 1080Ti, GTX 1080, GTX 1070Ti, GTX 1070, GTX 1060 (6GB), GTX 1660Ti, GTX 1660 and the TITAN V. And while there are now only three games featuring ray tracing effects, NVIDIA has released three tech demos for you to try. For now, only three games support RTX. However, do note that you won't be getting impressive performance with ray tracing turned on.

At GDC a year ago, we saw multiple tech companies begin discussing the potential for bringing real-time ray-tracing to video games.

Ray tracing does carry a heavy performance hit - but the results from testing Pascal cards with the feature suggests that at least the 1080 Ti is capable of enabling the feature some of the time. But the company wants millions of additional gamers to enjoy ray tracing, rather than keep the technology exclusive to Nvidia's latest line of RTX cards. Until now, Nvidia's driver has locked out non-RTX GPUs from running DXR but that changes today with the rollout of the GeForce 425.31 driver. It is the first time that real-time ray tracing has been used for caustics. Of course, if you can see ray tracing and like it, but the games don't run smoothly, that works out in Nvidia's favor. Here is the official list of GPUs supported with the new driver update.

While this is indeed big news, it's probably best not to get too excited about the prospect of ray tracing on GTX GPUs.

Battlefield V makes use of ray tracing reflections, Metro Exodus makes use of Global Illumination and Ambient Occlusion while Shadow of The Tomb Raider uses Shadows. But even with that in mind, GTX cards struggled to play Battlefield V whereas their RTX equivalents achieved more than double the frame rates.

"Previously, reflecting much of this detail was impossible, and what could be reflected was seen at a far lower level of fidelity, without accurate representation of curved surfaces, or real-time updates of on and off-screen reflections", NVIDIA says.

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